The First Black Archaeologist: A Life of John Wesley Gilbert, is now available from Oxford University Press. Order through your local independent bookstore where possible.
For a brief overview of Professor Gilbert’s life and work, see his entry in the Database of Classical Scholars.
Watch an interview about the book at World History Encyclopedia (YouTube)
My book is featured on Carl Rollyson’s A Life in Biography podcast (on Apple podcasts, as well as on Spotify, Anchor FM, and other platforms). It also appears on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s list of books “ideal for reading during Black History Month — or any time of the year.“
You can read more in my hometown paper, Midweek Central O’ahu Voice.
And, here is a video from my recent book event at Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara.
Upcoming Book Events
September 13-14, times TBA at Florida State University (in person).
November 6, time TBA at the Getty Villa Museum (in person)
April 4, 2023, time TBA at Princeton University (in person).
To learn more about African American history in Prof. Gilbert’s home town of Augusta, Georgia, visit Paine College, the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, the Augusta African-American Historical Society, and Historic Augusta.
I study the history of ancient West Asia, especially war, society, and culture in the Greek and Achaemenid world from ca. 650-330 BC. I also study receptions, interpretations, and representations of antiquity in the United States, especially amongst African American classical scholars during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
I teach graduate and undergraduate ancient history courses, survey courses in ancient world history, and classes in the history of warfare from antiquity to the present. I have run archaeological field schools and travel-study programs in Greece and Turkey, and I am a member of the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). I am also a member of the UCSB Iranian Studies Initiative.
I serve as faculty advisor for the UCSB Chapter of the Student Veterans of America. If you are a UCSB student veteran, military dependent, or other military-affiliated student, or you are interested in attending UCSB, you are welcome to contact me for information about the SVA@UCSB and about support for veterans, dependents, and other military-affiliated students at UCSB. You may also visit the web site for UCSB Veterans and Military Services.
Graduate Study in Ancient History at UCSB
UCSB has a vibrant, inclusive, multidisciplinary ancient studies community that brings together faculty and students from History, Classics, History of Art & Architecture, Religious Studies, Anthropology, and other departments. Our Ancient History PhD program emphasizes both research and teaching. We provide rigorous graduate mentoring in a collegial, supportive environment. Through our seminars, lecture series, and other events, our graduate students have the opportunity to meet distinguished visiting scholars from around the world. Our PhDs have found success in tenure-track positions at research universities and liberal arts colleges, and in non-academic careers.
For more information about the UCSB graduate program in Ancient History, please read our departmental field description. The application deadline for entry in Fall Quarter 2022 has passed. If you are interested in applying to the graduate program for entry in Fall Quarter 2023, please contact me during Fall 2022 to discuss your application.
Research and Teaching Interests:
- History and Archaeology of Ancient Greece & Achaemenid Persia
- African Americans and Greco-Roman Classics in the 19th-century United States
- History of Warfare from Antiquity to the 21st Century
- “African American Travelers Encounter Greece, ca. 1850-1900” (submitted for American Journal of Philology special issue)
- “African Americans and Xenophon, ca. 1800-1910” (submitted for Proceedings of the 2021 International Xenophon Conference)
- “That First Trip in Central Greece:” John Pickard’s 1890 handwritten account of the first ASCSA trip through Phokis, Lokris, and Boeotia; with material from Andrew Fossum’s 1937 handwritten account of the same trip (in preparation for Hesperia)
- Representations of Achaemenid History in 19th-20th Century U.S. School Textbooks
- Pacific Island Classics: Greek, Latin, and the Ancient Mediterranean World in 19th-Century Hawai’i
- Xenophon, Plato, and Frank Yerby’s Goat Song: A Novel of Ancient Greece (1967)
- The First Black Archaeologist: A Life of John Wesley Gilbert . Oxford University Press, 2022.
- “A Soldier’s View of the March”
in Shane Brennan and David Thomas (eds.) The Landmark Xenophon’s Anabasis, 342-350. Pantheon Books, 2021.
- Articles on Opountian Lokris, Arms & Armor, Armies, and Immortals in C. Baron (ed.), The Herodotus Encyclopedia. Wiley Blackwell, 2021.
- “Daily Life in Classical Greek Armies, c. 500–330 BCE”
in L. Brice (ed.), New Approaches to Greek and Roman Warfare, 39-52. Wiley Blackwell, 2020.
- “Xenophon and His Times”
in M. Flower (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Xenophon, 15-36. Cambridge University Press, 2016. Reviewed in Bryn Mawr Classical Review.
- Globalizing Borderlands Studies in Europe and North America
co-edited with Michael North (Greifswald University). University of Nebraska Press, 2016. (Now available in Korean translation)
- “Cyrus the Younger and Artaxerxes II, 401 BC: an Achaemenid Civil War Reconsidered”
in J. Collins and J. Manning (eds.), Revolt and Resistance in the Ancient Classical World and the Near East: In the Crucible of Empire, 103-121. Brill, 2016.
- “Tissaphernes and the Achaemenid Defense of Western Anatolia, 412-395 BC”
in J. Armstrong (ed.), Circum Mare: Themes in Ancient Warfare, 262-281. Brill, 2016.
- Helmets of the First World War. Historical exhibition at the UC Santa Barbara Library, 2016-2017.
- “The Classical Greek Experience”
in B. Campbell and L. Tritle (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Warfare, 143-161. Oxford University Press, 2013.
- The Persian Empire
DVD/audio series, 24 thirty-minute lectures. The Great Courses/The Teaching Company, 2012. Click the link above for a video preview and a complete list of lectures.
- “The Fight for Ancient Sicily”
Archaeology 64.1 (2011), 38-41.
- “Urban Warfare in the Classical Greek World”
in Victor Hanson (ed.), Makers of Ancient Strategy. Princeton University Press, 2010. Read a review here.
- “Land Warfare in Xenophon’s Hellenika“
in Robert Strassler (ed.), The Landmark Xenophon’s Hellenika, 391-394. Pantheon Books, 2009.
- A Greek Army on the March: Soldiers and Survival in Xenophon’s Anabasis
Cambridge University Press, 2007. Nominated for the 2008 Runciman Award.
- “Xenophon’s Anabasis and the Origins of Military Autobiography”
in Alex Vernon (ed.), Arms and the Self: War, the Military, and Autobiographical Discourse, 141-160. Kent State University Press, 2005.
- “For there were many hetairai in the army: Women in Xenophon’s Anabasis.”
The Ancient World 35.2 (2004), 145-165.
- “Urban Combat at Olynthos, 348 B.C.”
British Archaeological Reports S958 (2001), 11-22.
- History 4A: The Ancient Mediterranean and West Asia
An introduction to early civilizations across the region from northern Africa to the Indus River Valley. Next offered in Fall 2022.
- History 111A: Early Greece, 3000-750 BC
Topics include Neolithic culture in the Aegean, Bronze Age Minoan & Mycenaean civilization, the Late Bronze Age international system, the historicity of the Trojan War, and early Iron Age Greece.
- History 111B: The Archaic and Classical Greek World, 750-323 BC
Topics include the polis (“city-state”), Greek-Persian interactions, the society and culture of classical Greece, the Peloponnesian War, and the rise of Macedon.
- History 111C: The Hellenistic World, 323-30 BC
Topics include the campaigns of Alexander, the formation of the Hellenistic kingdoms, Greek federal states, Hellenistic science and technology, and ethnicity and culture in the Hellenistic world.
- History 111F: Achaemenid Persia, 559-330 BC
Ancient Persia from Cyrus to Alexander. Topics include the development of Achaemenid imperialism, economic and social history of the empire, art and architecture, and cultural interactions amongst Persians, Greeks, and others. Next offered in Winter 2023.
- History 111R: Research Seminar in Ancient History
Research seminar for history majors. Participants write a 15-20 page paper. Spring 2022.
- History 111T: Topics in Ancient History
Upper-division lecture course; topics vary by quarter. Winter 2022: The World of Xenophon, ca. 430-350 BC.
- History 201E: Reading Seminar in Ancient History
Recent topics: Historiography of Classical Greece & Achaemenid Persia; Greek and Near Eastern Economies and Societies; Comparative Histories of Ancient Greece and Early China. Spring 2023.
- History 211A & 211B: Research Seminar in Ancient History
Most recent topic: Civil War, Revolt, and Rebellion in the Greek & Achaemenid World.
Honors and Professional Activities:
Honors and Awards
- Harold J. Plous Award, UCSB, 2005-2006
- Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, UCSB, 2003-2004
- Peace Studies Program Fellow, Cornell University, 1998
- James Rignall Wheeler Fellow, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1996-1997
- Managing Committee Member, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
- President, Santa Barbara Society, Archaeological Institute of America
- Affiliated Scholar, Center for the Study of American Exile & Expatriation (CSAEE)
- Mitrou Archaeological Project. Field School Co-Director, 2005.
- Cornell Halai and East Lokris Project. Excavation Staff, 1999-2004.
Media Appearances and Public History
- John Wesley Gilbert at Lake Junalaska– The Mountaineer (Waynesville, NC)
- The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia– Hellenic Public Radio 91.5FM NYC.
- Persian History in California Public Schools– Pacifica Radio KPFA 94.1 Berkeley.
- What do you know about Ancient Persia?– ‘Ōlelo Community Media, Honolulu.
- History Advocates: A Community Effort for Accurate Portrayal of Persian History in California Schools.
- Hoplite Battle at Norwich University
- The King and Us: Perspectives on Cyrus of Anshan (The Octavian Report, NYC, May 2017)
- The Archaeological Site of Skarkos on Ios (informational text)
Web Links and Resources
- Association of Ancient Historians
The premier professional organization of ancient historians in North America.
Essential research tools, publications, and information for the study of Achaemenid Persia. Founded by Prof. Pierre Briant.
- The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
A center for research and teaching since 1881, the ASCSA is the oldest U.S. overseas research institution.
- Encyclopaedia Iranica
A research tool for studying Iranian civilization and culture from ancient times to the present.
- UCLA Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World
Features a wide-ranging series of events with leading speakers on Iranian history, literature, and culture from ancient to modern times; many events are recorded.
- Collège de France: lectures on Achaemenid History
Watch recorded lectures by Pierre Briant, Mark Garrison, and Michael Jursa.
- University of Chicago: Preserving Persepolis
Includes a 12-minute video with aerial photos and 3D reconstructions of ancient Persepolis.
- Internet Resources for Ancient History and Classics
Links to databases, bibliographies, and other research tools for studying ancient history.
- Attic Inscriptions Online
Texts, translations, and commentaries for hundreds of Athenian inscriptions.
- War: a documentary by Gwynne Dyer
A classic 1983 series on warfare and warriors from ancient to modern times.